Boston Red Sox Rumors


Quick Hits: Cardinals, Lester, Penny

John Gibbons of the Blue Jays, Kirk Gibson of the Diamondbacks, and Terry Collins of the Mets are among the managers currently on the hot seat, writes FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal. Gibbons presided over an extremely disappointing 2013 Jays season, Gibson's Diamondbacks haven't taken a step forward, and Collins might become a victim of unfair expectations. Here are more notes from around baseball.

  • Good closers come from a wide variety of backgrounds, and big-name closers aren't always what they seem to be, Tyler Kepner shows in a long piece for the New York Times. That means overpaying for a closer can be a mistake. "We had a different guy for about six years in a row — Joe Borowski, Todd Jones, Armando Benitez," says Marlins director of baseball operations Dan Noffsinger. "Each one of these guys would have 30-plus saves, be successful and go get a bigger contract elsewhere. We would just move on to the next guy." The Marlins' example shows one reason why the Orioles were willing to trade Jim Johnson this offseason, for example, and the White Sox were willing to deal Addison Reed.
  • The selection of Shelby Miller in the first round of the 2009 draft marked a turning point for the Cardinals, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. "By the time we picked Miller, I think our knowledge base in at least how to avoid the high-risk players had evolved to the point where we felt more comfortable fishing in those waters," says Astros GM Jeff Luhnow, who ran the Cardinals' draft at the time. "He had the delivery. He had the pitches that we thought could develop. The size. The makeup. We had learned from our mistakes." Goold points out that before Miller, the Cardinals hadn't selected a pitcher in the first 30 picks of the draft since 1991. The Cardinals attacked the problem of which high-school pitchers were the best picks by looking at big-league pitchers and figuring out why they succeeded, and they focused on arm strength and athleticism. Later in that same 2009 draft, the Cardinals also selected Joe Kelly and Trevor Rosenthal.
  • Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester isn't concerned about his impending free agency, writes Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. "If I use that for motivation, I’ve got problems," Lester says. "That’s not what motivates me to go out and pitch and get better. Money has never driven me." Lester and the Red Sox recently suspended negotiations on an extension.
  • Free agent pitcher Brad Penny has changed agencies from to the Legacy Agency to Millennium Sports, MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo tweets. In early March, the Royals released Penny from their minor-league deal with him.



AL Notes: Lester, Middlebrooks, Tigers, Royals, Astros

The retirements of Yankee icon Derek Jeter and Commissioner Bud Selig and the Red Sox's quest to repeat as World Series champions are baseball's top storylines this season, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. The Mike Trout/Miguel Cabrera debate also makes Cafardo's list along with five other topics to monitor in 2014. Stoking the discussion, the dynamic duo both agreed to lengthy and lucrative contract extensions just one day apart this past week: six years, $144.5MM for Trout and eight years, $248MM for Cabrera

In other news and notes from the American League:

  • Within the same article, Cafardo opines Jon Lester better be willing to accept less from the Red Sox than the six-year, $144MM proposal the Tigers made to Max Scherzer adding negotiations with the left-hander will be a true test of how much faith the club has in its top pitching prospects.
  • Lester addressed the media today, including WEEI.com's Rob Bradford (who provides a transcript of the extension-related portion of the presser) and contrasted his situation to Scherzer's. "Every situation is different, every negotiation is different, every person is different, so until it'€™s there in front of you with a pen to sign it, or not presented to you and you have to go the other way, then like I said, we'€™ll deal with that when it comes.
  • Contact lenses could be the key to the season for Red Sox's third baseman Will Middlebrooks, according to Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. An eye test this spring revealed Middlebrooks' vision had deteriorated to 20-25 in his right eye and 20-30 in his left. "For everyday life, you’d never correct it," the 25-year-old said. "But for what I do, you need to be able to see the little things. Once I put them in, I could really see the spin on the ball. I was always just reading trajectory of the ball. I was never seeing the spin."
  • Pitching and offense are reasons why the Red Sox can repeat while history (no team has sucessfully defended its World Series title since 2000) and questions up the middle are reasons why they won't, writes CSNNE.com's Sean McAdam
  • Tigers President/CEO/GM Dave Dombrowski told MLB Network Radio (Twitter link) he had the financial wherewithal to extend both Cabrera and Scherzer. "We had both negotiations going simultaneously," said Dombrowski. "We were trying to sign both."
  • The Royals have had mixed results with their philsophy of developing pitchers, reports Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. The organization believes you need 10 pitching prospects to deliver one to the Majors and that has worked in developing relievers, but only four prospects have started a game for Kansas City during GM Dayton Moore's seven-year tenure, McCullough notes.
  • The Astros have been active at the Trade Deadline the past two seasons, but that may not be the case this year, writes the Houston Chronicle's Evan Drellich. "No question. This year's different," GM Jeff Luhnow told Drellich. "This year, we have veteran players. If they play well, we're likely to keep them as opposed to move them. There’s always going to be that temptation...we’ll balance all the factors, including the fact that we do want to show significant progress."  



Red Sox Release Francisco Cordero

TODAY, 9:37am: Correcting his earlier report, Cotillo tweets that Cordero is represented by Relativity.

YESTERDAY, 4:28pm: Cordero will be represented by new agents on the open market, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. He has switched from Proformance to ACES.

11:20am: The Red Sox have released pitcher Francisco Cordero, tweets Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. The move was expected after GM Ben Cherington said this morning that Cordero would not make the roster and was not expected to accept a minor league assignment.

Cordero, soon to turn 39, has not seen MLB action since 2012. Once one of the most reliable relievers in the game, the longtime closer had a rough go in his last big league season, putting up a 7.55 ERA campaign in 2012. Before that, however, he had gone a decade of full-time work without an ERA greater than 3.84, and had posted six seasons of sub-3.00 ERA pitching. In eight spring innings for the Red Sox this year, Cordero struck out eight while surrendering just one walk, five hits, and no earned runs.



Minor Moves: Watanabe, Poythress, Laffey, Berger

We'll round up today's minor moves here:



Red Sox, Lester Table Extension Talks

The Red Sox and staff ace Jon Lester have decided to table their discussions on an extension, reports Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe (via Twitter). Talks were terminated "amicably," says Abraham, and the sides could pick up discussions during the upcoming season.

At times, it had seemed quite likely that a new deal would be reached to keep Lester in Boston for the foreseeable future. But with Opening Day fast approaching, the sides were apparently not close enough to keep the dialogue going into the start of the season. Lester is set to hit the open market after the coming season.

WEEI.com's Alex Speier provides some statements from GM Ben Cherington (links to Twitter), who says that the team still hopes to lock up Lester for the future. Both sides have a "shared desire to continue to talk," said Cherington, who would not rule out inter-season discussions but also said they may not pick up until the 2014 campaign is over.



AL East Notes: Anthopoulos, Sizemore, Schoop

We covered a couple of Yankees items as part of a New York Notes post earlier today, so now let's take a look around the rest of the AL East...

  • Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said the team is open to possibly extending the contracts of Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Reyes, the GM tells The Toronto Star's Richard Griffin.  Bautista (33) and Encarnacion (31) are contracted through 2015 and the Jays have team options on both players for 2016, while Reyes (30) is locked up through the 2017 season.  Extensions would take any of the trio well into their late-30's, yet Anthopoulos points to David Ortiz and Carlos Beltran as older players who are still big hitters.
  • Also as part of the wide-ranging interview, Anthopoulos discusses his disappointment over the Ervin Santana non-signing, restocking the farm system and more.
  • Grady Sizemore will be the Red Sox center fielder on Opening Day, manager John Farrell told reporters (including Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald).  Star prospect Jackie Bradley was widely presumed the favorite to take over from Jacoby Ellsbury as Boston's new center fielder this season, yet Bradley struggled to hit in Spring Training and will start the year at Triple-A.  Sizemore, meanwhile, enjoyed a big spring and proved he was healthy after missing the last two seasons.  Sizemore signed a $750K minor league deal with Boston this winter that could be worth as much as $6MM if Sizemore meets all the incentives.
  • Farrell said that Sizemore will still receive regular rest in order to keep him fresh.  Since this will free up some outfield playing time, FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi wonders if the Red Sox could be in the market for a right-handed hitting outfielder who can play all three OF spots.
  • Red Sox sports-medicine coordinator Dan Dyrek played an important part in both convincing Sizemore to sign with Boston and in getting him back in playing condition, Sizemore tells Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal.  Dyrek was “the first guy who has understood not only how it happened but what caused it and how to fix it and how to prevent it from happening again,” Sizemore said.
  • The Orioles plan to have Jonathan Schoop on the Opening Day roster, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweets.  Schoop will play both second and third base, splitting time with Steve Lombardozzi and Ryan Flaherty, respectively.  The 2014 Baseball America Prospect Handbook ranked Schoop as the fifth-best prospect in the Baltimore farm system, and Schoop fought his way onto the 25-man roster thanks to a huge Spring Training.



Pitching Notes: Hernandez, Cordero, Lewis, Gonzalez

Diamondbacks reliever David Hernandez has a torn UCL and may require Tommy John surgery, Hernandez's agent Jason Hoffman tells FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal (Twitter link).  Hernandez is getting a second opinion but if the original diagnosis is confirmed, the right-hander will miss the entire 2014 season.  Since coming to Arizona in December 2010 as part of the Mark Reynolds trade, Hernandez has posted a 3.42 ERA, 3.17 K/BB and 10.8 K/9, though he struggled a bit last season due to an inflated home run rate.  Losing Hernandez would further hurt the Arizona pitching staff, which also lost Patrick Corbin to an UCL tear earlier this month.

Here are some more notes about pitchers whose roster status is in question...

  • Francisco Cordero has been told by the Red Sox that he isn't making the Opening Day roster, so the veteran reliever is now deciding whether to go to Triple-A Pawtucket or leave for another team, WEEI.com's Alex Speier reports.  While Cordero doesn't officially have an opt-out clause in his minor league deal with the Sox, the two sides have an agreement that Cordero would be released if he finds a job elsewhere.
  • Colby Lewis can opt out of his minor league deal with the Rangers on April 10, Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News reports.  Lewis was brought back on a minors contract after missing the entire 2013 season recovering from hip-resurfacing surgery, and the Rangers have been easing him back into action during Spring Training.
  • If the Phillies are in need of another 40-man roster spot, GM Ruben Amaro said that Miguel Alfred Gonzalez could end up on the 60-day DL, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets.  Gonzalez was officially placed on the 15-day DL (backdated to March 21) today due to tendinitis in his right shoulder.



Minor Moves: Armstrong, Vitek, Keck, Arroyo, Broxton

We'll keep track of the day's minor moves here:

  • Jack Armstrong, a 2011 third-round choice of the Astros, has hung up his spikes, reports Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter links). Selected as a pitcher and given a $750K signing bonus, Armstrong never even got on the hill professionally due to a series of arm injuries. He had been hoping to switch to first base. 
  • 2010 Red Sox first-rounder Kolbrin Vitek has retired, reports Alex Speier of WEEI.com. Injuries slowed the toolsy player, who never managed to translate his raw abilities into production. As Speier notes, however, several other players taken in that draft have panned out quite nicely.
  • Reliever Jon Keck has signed on with the Rockies on a minor league pact, according to the MLB transactions page. The 25-year-old southpaw had spent his entire career in the Royals organization, and threw 52 relief innings of 3.81 ERA ball at the Double-A level last year. It would appear that he had some significant control issues, however, as he walked 6.8 batters (striking out 8.7) for every nine innings.
  • The Diamondbacks have acquired lefty Spencer Arroyo from the White Sox for cash, according to the MLB transactions page. The 25-year-old spent most of his time as a starter in Double-A last year, putting up a 3.50 ERA in 149 1/3 innings while posting 5.8 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9. 
  • The Pirates have acquired outfielder Keon Broxton from the Diamondbacks in exchange for a player to be named later, Pittsburgh announced via press release. Selected 95th overall in the 2009 draft, Broxton was outrighted off of the Arizona 40-man roster back in October. Broxton has struggled to translate his athleticism -- he was the D'backs most athletic prospect last year, per Baseball America -- into consistent production. Playing at Double-A last year, Broxton was unable to follow up on a strong 2012 campaign in his repeat of the HIgh-A level, and hit just .231/.296/.359 with eight home runs and five steals in 372 plate appearances.
  • At the start of the day, two players -- Carlos Peguero of the Royals and Johnny Monell of the Orioles -- were in limbo in the MLBTR DFA Tracker. They have since been joined by Bobby LaFromboise of the Mariners and Raul Valdes of the Astros.



Offseason In Review: Boston Red Sox

The World Series champions will use some of their well-regarded young prospects to fill holes left by a pair of notable departed free agents.

Major League Signings

Notable Minor League Signings

Trades And Claims

Extensions

Notable Losses

Needs Addressed

The heralded 2012-13 Red Sox offseason not only gave the Sox the depth they needed to capture last year's World Series, but also left the team with relatively little to do this winter besides discuss extensions with two long-time franchise stars and address four major free agents.

The one of the four free agents who did re-sign was the one perhaps most vocal about his desire to return to Boston.  Mike Napoli received at least one three-year offer from another team, but instead accepted a two-year, $32MM deal to remain as the Sox first baseman.  The Red Sox did explore other first base options, most notably chasing Jose Dariel Abreu before Abreu ultimately signed with the White Sox.

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It's worth noting that, of the positions played by the free agent quartet, first base was the only one that didn't have a Major League-ready prospect on the horizon or ready for 2014.  The Sox likely would've found a right-handed hitter to platoon with Mike Carp at first had Napoli gone elsewhere, but still, it could be argued that Napoli was the free agent that was most necessary to re-sign for the short term.

Speaking of prospects, with Blake Swihart and Christian Vazquez scheduled to arrive within the next couple of seasons, the Red Sox were only comfortable bringing back catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia for two years at the most.  As such, Saltalamacchia took more security in the form of a three-year, $21MM deal from the Marlins, leaving Boston in need of a short-term starter behind the plate.  The solution ended up being a one-year, $8.25MM contract for A.J. Pierzynski.  The veteran pairing of Pierzynski and David Ross will handle the catching duties for 2014; Vazquez had an impressive Spring Training and could have the early lead on the 2015 job if he performs well at Triple-A Pawtucket this season.

There were rumors that Boston could look to trade from its starting pitching depth given that the club entered the offseason with six starters for five rotation spots, plus swingman Brandon Workman and top prospects who have already gotten a taste of the bigs like Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster.  Ryan Dempster's decision not to pitch in 2014, however, ended those rumors.  Rather than dip into their younger depth options, the Sox acquired another veteran in left-hander Chris Capuano, who will serve as a reliever and spot starter.

Capuano also adds a southpaw bullpen arm to replace Matt Thornton, whose $6MM team option was declined by the Sox in November.  Boston addressed the pen by trading for groundball specialist Burke Badenhop and signing righty Edward Mujica, who performed well for a time as the Cardinals' closer last year but will return to his usual setup role in backing up Koji Uehara.

While the Red Sox will go young to replace Jacoby Ellsbury and (the likely departed) Stephen Drew, that didn't stop them from adding some veteran depth in Grady Sizemore and Jonathan Herrera.  While Herrera seems clearly tabbed for a utility infield role, Sizemore's strong Spring Training may have earned him at least a share of the starting center field job.  If Sizemore stays healthy and performs at even a fraction of his 2005-08 form, the Sox will have found another incredible bargain given that Sizemore is only guaranteed $750K for the season (though with $5.25MM in incentives).

David Ortiz has been vocal about the lack of long-term security in his last couple of contracts (a one-year deal for 2012 and a two-year deal covering 2013-14) but the franchise icon could now remain in Boston through his age-41 season thanks to a new extension.  The deal is officially a one-year extension through 2015 but an $11MM option for 2016 will vest if Ortiz reaches at least 425 PA in 2015, plus there's a team option for 2017 as well.  While it wouldn't be a shock if a 38-year-old slugger suddenly declined, Ortiz still looks as dangerous as ever, as his .959 OPS and World Series MVP trophy would indicate.

Questions Remaining

The Red Sox at least explored re-signing Ellsbury, but since they weren't keen on going beyond five years or more than $100MM, the club didn't come close to the seven-year, $153MM contract that Ellsbury received from the Yankees.  While it remains to be seen if Ellsbury will stay productive over the life of that deal, his loss is a double short-term blow for Boston.  Not only did the Sox lose one of their best players to their AL East arch-rivals, their planned replacement (Jackie Bradley Jr.) hasn't lived up to expectations in Spring Training.

Bradley, who turns 24 in April, has a .297/.404/.471 line over 989 minor league PA and is regarded as an excellent defender.  While he only had a .617 OPS in 107 PA in his Major League debut last season, Bradley is still considered one of the game's top 100 prospects (ranked 33rd by MLB.com, 50th by Baseball America, 51st by ESPN's Keith Law) and he was expected to get the lion's share of playing time as Boston's new center fielder this season. 

Instead, however, Bradley's struggles during the spring have allowed Sizemore a chance at the job --- center field becomes a question mark either way, given that Bradley is unproven and Sizemore hasn't played a professional game since 2011.  Shane Victorino could potentially play center in a pinch with Mike Carp taking over in right, or the Daniel Nava/Jonny Gomes platoon could shift from LF to RF with Carp playing left field, or Nava could play center while Carp replaces him in the platoon with Gomes.  Such a shakeup seems unlikely, however, as it would weaken the outfield defense.

The left side of the Red Sox infield will be manned by Xander Bogaerts at shortstop and Will Middlebrooks at third, as the club hopes that the former will live up his high prospect pedigree and the latter will find consistency in his third Major League season.  Baseball America, Law and MLB.com all rank Bogaerts as the sport's #2 prospect and the 21-year-old has already made an impact with the Sox, posting an .893 OPS in 34 postseason PA and taking over as the starting third baseman for the World Series.

That third base job, of course, belonged to Middlebrooks heading into the playoffs but a mediocre postseason just added to his frustrating 2013 season.  Middlebrooks hit only .227/.271/.425 in 374 PA, though he did show off some pop by hitting 17 homers.  At age 25 and only two years removed from being a highly-touted prospect himself, it's far too soon for the Sox to give up on Middlebrooks, though they're exploring creative backup options like Carp at third.

Exercising Jon Lester's 2014 option was the easiest move the Red Sox made all winter, but signing the southpaw to an extension has been a bit tricker.  Lester has expressed his preference to remain in Boston for the rest of his career and even said he'd be willing to give the Sox a bit of a discount on a new contract, so this may not be a "question remaining" as much as it just a matter of time before a deal is reached.  The club hopes to have an extension worked out by Opening Day, though Lester has said he's willing to keep negotiations going into the season if the two sides are close.

If Lester is retained, the Sox will have both removed one of next winter's top free agents arms from the board and kept its longtime ace in the fold for several years to come.  Lester could end up being the mound equivalent of Ortiz as a staple player who bridges a few different generations of Red Sox championship contenders.

Deal Of Note

It might seem odd to dub merely extending a qualifying offer as one of the most notable moves of an offseason, yet Boston giving such a one-year, $14.1MM to Stephen Drew ended up having far-reaching consequences.  When Drew rejected the offer, it meant a team with a non-protected pick would have to surrender its first-round draft pick to sign him, and a protected-pick club would have to give up its next-highest draft choice (be it in the compensation round or second round).

With draft compensation attached, Drew's market has been drastically limited.  The veteran shortstop is one of several qualifying-offer free agents who were available for much longer than expected this winter, and of that group, only Drew and Kendrys Morales still remain unsigned.  Scott Boras, who represents both men, says his clients are willing to wait until June to sign if need be, as they'll get around the draft pick compensation simply by sitting out until the draft has passed.

How would this impact the Red Sox?  As MLBTR's Tim Dierkes and FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal point out, such a maneuver could put more pressure on Boston to re-sign Drew since otherwise, they'd lose out on a first round pick.  You'd think that certainly, some team would develop a need at shortstop and sign Drew before June, but then again, you also wouldn't have thought that Drew would still be available less than a week from Opening Day.

Until Drew is officially in another team's uniform, there's at least a chance he could return to Boston.  GM Ben Cherington has been in contact with Boras about the shortstop this winter, though the two sides haven't spoken in weeks and the Sox reportedly offered Drew only a one-year deal.  It's also possible that the Red Sox themselves could be that team who needs some shortstop help, in case Bogaerts and/or Middlebrooks can't handle their jobs.

That said, Boston's confidence in these two promising young stars is why the Sox felt comfortable in letting Drew leave in the first place.  Transitioning top prospects into regulars is a key aspect of the team's operations, as Cherington tells MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince: "We recognize that our goal is to be as good as we possibly can be in 2014 but also 2015 and 2016 and beyond.  To do what we want to do, year in and year out, there has to be integration of young players. We're not going to force that unless we're reasonably confident those guys can contribute right away." 

Overview

After rebuilding the roster by adding several mid-tier free agents last winter, the Red Sox had the flexibility to focus on short-term, middle-term and long-term moves this offseason.  For the coming season, they shored up their roster holes by replacing Saltalamacchia with Pierzynski, Dempster with Capuano and Thornton/Andrew Bailey/Franklin Morales with Mujica and Badenhop.  In the near term, the club virtually ensured that Ortiz will retire in a Red Sox jersey.  As for the future, in issuing qualifying offers to Ellsbury and Drew, the Sox ensured at least one extra compensation draft pick (currently 33rd overall) and likely another once Drew finally signs elsewhere.

The biggest long-term move, of course, is entrusting Bogaerts, Middlebrooks and (potentially) Bradley with three positions that combined for 9.9 fWAR in 2013.  Though obviously the Red Sox fully expect to be contenders, it's possible this season could be the so-called "bridge year" that the club expected to have in 2013 should the young trio have growing pains.  Boston also enjoyed relatively good health and above-average performances from almost the entire roster last season, so a bit of regression is probably in store.  (Plus, losing some of the facial hair could be bad karma.)

That said, with Boston's track record of developing homegrown talent, it's also easy to believe that any or all of these three prospects could immediately become solid contributors.  With the bulk of the championship core returning, the Red Sox are still deep and talented enough to challenge for another title.

Photo courtesy of Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports Images



AL East Links: Murphy, Romine, Rays, McGowan

MLBTR's Offseason In Review series continued earlier today with my look at the Orioles' winter moves, covering everything from the Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz signings to the lack of progress on extensions for Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy and Matt Wieters.  Here's some more from around the AL East...

  • Yankees GM Brian Cashman told reporters (including ESPN New York's Wallace Matthews) that he's "hearing from a lot of people about" catchers John Ryan Murphy and Austin Romine.  The Yankees have been shopping their catching depth for weeks, and now that Francisco Cervelli has won the backup job, Murphy and Romine could be more expendable.  Cashman, however, doesn't feel pressure to move either players.  "They’re assets. We’re not in any position where we have to do anything, but if something made sense, we’d consider it. But right now, we’re happy with what we’ve got," Cashman said.
  • Rays manager Joe Maddon told reporters (including Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times) that he has informed Wilson Betemit and Jayson Nix that they won't be making Tampa's Opening Day roster, in order to give the two players extra time to find another Major League opportunity.  The two veterans signed minor league deals with the Rays earlier this winter and have the ability to opt out, though Betemit told Topkin that he would play for Tampa's Triple-A affiliate if he couldn't find a roster spot elsewhere (Topkin believes Nix feels the same way).
  • Mark Lowe is also open to returning to the Rays, the veteran right-hander tells Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times.  Lowe's family lives in the Tampa area and he praised the Rays organization, saying that he would be willing to pitch at Triple-A unless, like Betemit and Nix, he finds a job with another team.  The Rays granted Lowe his release earlier today after he was also told he wouldn't make the 25-man roster.
  • The Blue Jays' decision to make Dustin McGowan their fifth starter raises concerns about whether McGowan is up to the task both performance-wise and health-wise, Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi writes.  Since McGowan made the rotation almost by default given how the Jays' other options struggled, Davidi wonders "if he and the Blue Jays are playing a game of Russian Roulette with his career" by returning McGowan to a starting role before he's even fully stretched out.  The injury-plagued McGowan missed three of the previous four seasons with shoulder and knee surgeries but pitched effectively over 25 2/3 innings out of the bullpen in 2013. 
  • Corey Brown didn't invoke the opt-out clause in his minor league contract with the Red Sox and will report to the club's Triple-A club, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports.









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